Mr. Mayor, Members of Council, as a 16 year resident of Sedona, I feel compelled to address some of council’s short comings – point out who in my opinion has been leading you in the wrong direction – and finally make a suggestion.
For over four years, Council has been funding pet projects sanctioned by our City Manager and City Engineer and squandering tax-payers money, while denying our most valued resource, line level city workers, decent wages and a cost of living increase. You promised a bonus at the beginning of the budget year to city employees – which ended up being cut by hundreds of dollars – and offered by our City Manager with a ‘take it or leave it’ attitude.
I call this an un-kept promise.
Your proposed across the board 3% ‘merit increase’ for 114 city employees adds up to less than $100,000 – which happens to be less than the annual salary of our City Manager’s newly hired Assistant City Manager.
Since July 2010, six sworn police personnel have left the City and it is very likely that others will leave in the near future to join other agencies. A number of other city employees have also left, seeking higher pay and to work for a City Manager who will treat them with respect.
At a time when our safety is more critical than ever, you cut ‘shift differential’ of $1 an hour from our police – denying them a mere $12 a night extra for their 12 hour shifts – yet you fund a multi-million dollar bird park with never ending maintenance costs – encouraged and sanctioned by our City Manager and City Engineer – that will displace our critically needed police firing range - shared with law enforcement throughout the region – because the noise from the guns disturbs the birds.
At a time when the Performing Arts Center remains often empty, from lack of use, you fund an ill fated second performance center – sanctioned by our City Manager and City Engineer – that even if it ever gets completed will not have adequate parking.
At a time when ADOT is putting up streetlights on 89A to assure the safety of our citizens, you fund a $50,000 ‘Small Grant Lighting Program’ to encourage business owners to buy dark sky compliant lighting on that very street. A pointless and costly program blessed by our City Manager and Code Enforcement.
At a time when the Boys and Girls Club center needs a mere $60,000 to stay afloat, you choose to drive the Boys and Girls Club out. The City Manager has a ‘better’ use for the facility – one that will ‘under serve’ Sedona’s poorest children.
Sales and Bed taxes are declining, and you give $500,000 to $600,000 to a Chamber of Commerce whose tax statement shows that nearly $566,579 of their million plus budget goes to salaries and benefits.
You boast that you are fiscally responsible, yet your 2012-2013 City budget shows a mere $11 million in City reserves. While a looming $60 million dollar sewer bond debt, you keep refinancing to extend the call date, gives Sedona Citizens the distinction of having among the ‘highest per capita debt’ in the state.
You double our sewer bills – torment tourists with traffic tickets – plan for parking meters in Uptown to make up for declining revenues – while our (with perks) $200,000 per year salaried City Manager – who in my opinion gives questionable advice to Council – with Council’s blessing, hires his friend as Assistant City Manager for nearly double what his previous Assistant made, even though there were 80 applicants for the job at the previous salary – then, also with Council’s blessing, he hires yet another friend as an assistant for his Assistant City Manager – and they all share one – more than likely, over worked and under-paid – secretary.
Here is my suggestion. Clean house.